Summary by Alicia Izharuddin (@angrymalaywoman)
• In ʻQueer Female of Color: The highest difficulty setting there is? Gaming rhetoric as gender capitalʼ, Lisa Nakamura reflects on a much talked-about article by popular science fiction writer John Scalzi on the ʻeasyʼ game play setting as analogous to the straight white male experience.
• In video games, players can decide on different settings – easy, medium, and difficult – depending on skill, experience, and confidence.
• In the straight white male ʻsettingʼ, the ease with which the ʻgame playerʼ finds while engrossed in a game becomes completely invisible to him.
• A player may come to notice that the settings are fixed at ʻhardʼ when situations are more challenging than the norm. Nakamura suggests that the ʻeasy settingsʼ of the straight white male that Scalzi employs is a good metaphor for privilege.
• As a highly successful writer with a huge male following, Scalzi personifies what Nakamura calls the geek masculinity par excellence. Scalziʼs male fans may demonstrate aspects of geek masculinity and accrue similar privileges that such a ʻsettingʼ that Scolzi describes.
• What is interesting is that even men who do not play video games or display overt aspects of geek masculinity can enjoy geek male privilege. This is because white heteronormative masculinity is “equated with expert, fan knowledge of gaming mechanics, structures, discourses–what Mia Consalvo has dubbed “gaming capital”
• The polar opposite of the easy straight male setting is what Scalzi calls the ʻhardcoreʼ ʻgay female minorityʼ.
• Nakamura confers with Scalzi by offering the example of the often extreme sexism and racism African American actor Aisha Tyler faced as a gaming enthusiast in a predominantly male gaming industry conference.
• Far from a democratic space in which we can assume multiple online identities and play as a fantasy character, online space and gaming space is part of the ʻwhite spatial imaginaryʼ whose boundaries are redrawn through racism and sexism.
1. How useful is the gaming language of straight white male privilege used by Scalzi outside of gaming culture?
2. Lisa Nakamura does not into much depth of what she means by the new form of patriarchal power, geek masculinity. What do you think are its defining characteristics?
3. There are many women of different backgrounds in gaming culture, yet men not only dominate in numbers but its discourse and access. Where can one go from Nakamura’s article and make gaming culture more inclusive?